A couple of weeks ago I was at a family wedding, chatting with a woman I’d just met (a distant cousin in my partner’s enormous family whose names I try to but can’t keep straight).
When I mentioned that I help women with chronic emotional and health-related problems, she started to tell me how frustrated she was that she had awful digestion issues even though she had always lived a healthy lifestyle.
The poor woman had a terrible time with food — reacting to everything with cramps and bloating or desperate runs to the bathroom. She’d go for weeks only being able to eat rice crackers and broth and having to stay at home in misery.
This had been going on for many years.
The doctors couldn’t help her, and meds weren’t helping her.
She was just done with it.
“Why is it that I see plenty of people eating fast food daily, totally fine, and here I am exercising and eating clean and still as sick as ever?! I’ve never even been drunk or smoked, and I’ve been dealing with this crap since I reached adulthood!”
I mean, I bet you eat pretty healthy food; you’ve probably done yoga or meditation and seen countless doctors or naturopaths/osteopaths/chiropractors; you’ve taken so many supplements over the years that you’ve stopped counting.
You’ve done all the things, so why are you still dealing with these symptoms?
It’s frustrating and discouraging. And it can seem so random.
But it might not be.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study
The answer is in the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) which is becoming more and more widely known. In short, this significant study (and subsequent research) showed how difficulties in childhood are directly linked to higher rates of chronic mental and physical health problems, including:
- anxiety and depression
- mental health diagnoses
- autoimmune diseases
- diseases affecting heart, lungs, and other organs
- suicide or early death
- ADHD and hyperactivity
These adverse childhood experiences include:
- economic hardship
- parental divorce or separation
- violence or frequent conflict in the home
- abuse (emotional, sexual, physical)
- emotional or physical neglect
- having a parent with an addiction or mental illness
- witnessing violence or trauma
- involvement with foster care
They found that the more ACEs you have, the higher your likelihood of experiencing negative mental, emotional and physical health effects later in life.
So, your unhappy gut is very likely a direct result of unprocessed toxic stress from early in your life.
But what if I didn’t have any trauma?
Now, you might say:
“But I grew up in a stable, loving home. Nothing bad happened to me. So why do I still have these symptoms?”
And that’s what I’ll be talking about next time :).
Comment below (or write me directly)! I want to know:
Can you see a connection between your mental and physical health and what you went through as a child? Or not so much?
If you don’t, I have a feeling the next instalment may help you make sense of things.